So lunch was at JW’s yesterday, on expenses and on the clock to boot. Kennet sent me to interview JW’s chief bar steward, Rodney. Seems like someone took a look at him last night and thought that he had more than a passing resemblance to the entity Taskforce Remiel is hunting. Kennet and Team ‘Alpha’ were in Scotland looking into a possible sighting of the entity in a park in Aberdeen (oh the irony).
So I made my way to JW’s. Before I’d reached the bar Rodney had poured me a Crabbies alcoholic ginger beer with ice and a slice of lime. Hmm. That’s his nature; I was once told that Rodney is the Elder God of Bar Stewards; that he predates Bacchus. I don’t know if it’s true but I do know he always knows what your favourite drink is and is the world’s best listener.
He looks, well he looks a lot like the entity, only slightly smaller when up close; two meters tops. But when you move away from him he doesn’t recede into the distance even when he’s the other side of the room, which makes for a weird scaling thingy. He also tends to go for multiple arms rather than tentacles, long weirdly jointed arms, but when things get hectic the tentacles are there. He wears a bow tie and sometimes a blue and white striped apron. The other difference is he has a face. Well faces; facial features he borrows from somewhere, the highly inebriated I’m told. The only thing he lacks is a voice, which was going to make my task interesting.
He was smiling now as I looked at the proffered beverage. Technically I was on duty but then technically I’m not a field agent. I ordered the house special burger without looking at the menu and took advantage of his attention to to whip out my laptop to show him a picture of the entity.
“Recognise the family resemblance?” I asked. He lowered his head, propping his chin in his hand as he gazed at the image. His head then sagged and I swore he sighed. “Anyone you know?” Rodney frowned sadly and shrugged and then shook his head. I pulled a notebook from my bag and dropped it beside my laptop. “You sure?” I took a sip of my drink. The bite of the ginger was strong enough to mask the windowlene tang of the alcohol. Damn it was fine.
Rodney pulled a pencil from somewhere and flipped open my notebook to the first blank page. He then drew the Operator symbol. I felt a shiver, like the charging of a sigil.
“That’s the guy” I said taking another sip, “He’s been abducting children and killing people the world over. He’s created an army of mortal servants.” I stopped in mid flow. Rodney had a look of horror on his face and was shaking his head violently from side to side, although his ‘face’ remained pointed at me. It was vaguely unnerving.
“It’s true,” I said, “The Department are looking to take him down. Anything you can inform me that can help would be appreciated.” Rodney stopped and glared at me for a moment before picking up his pencil again and drawing an operator symbol in each quarter of the first one. Then he repeated himself, drawing another symbol in each of those, until the thickness of the pencil lead prevented him from continuing. With each repetition of the symbol the charge I had felt reduced until it diminished almost entirely, unlike a true sigil where repetition only serves to increase its power. Rodney then drew an angry emoticon in the bottom right of the page a surrounded it with a double triangle, much like a warning sign.
I looked up at Rodney from the notepad. “What does it mean?” I asked him. He gestured as if to say ‘make of it what you will’. It was then that my meal arrived. Rodney passed it over to me with an insincere smile. Something had disturbed him about my line of questioning, such as it was.
While I ate Rodney busied himself with other customers. As I ate [REDACTED] came over and asked me if I was enjoying my meal. I told him I was and, before he could leave I told him why I was there. [REDACTED] so he called Rodney back over and [REDACTED] the Hire Powers had warned that [REDACTED].
“[REDACTED] Nyarlathotep [REDACTED]”. [REDACTED].
“[REDACTED] but if ‘he who waits behind the walls’ is [REDACTED]”. [REDACTED]
“[REDACTED] sings the song that ends the world.” [REDACTED] said.
“Been there,” I said, “Not what I expected.” [REDACTED] nodded.
“We were practically ground zero when the [REDACTED] but then you were in at the end too.” I nodded and wondered how many people knew my nightmarish secret. Then I realised I’d poured my heart out to Rodney afterwards, [REDACTED] could well have overheard.
“I [REDACTED] but for the wrong team.” [REDACTED]
I headed for [REDACTED].
When I returned to my flat I felt something strike against my wards as I crossed the threshold. My bag jerked at my side, the strap trying to cut into my neck. I dragged the suddenly impossibly heavy bag inside, letting the door slam behind me as I knelt beside the bag and opened it. I poured the contents onto the floor and my eyes alighted upon Rodney’s sketch, the centre of which was beginning to turn brown. I tore the page from pad and rushed into the bathroom, dropping the sheet into the sink just as it burst into flames. I waited for the fire to burn itself out before I washed the ashes down the drain. I had never seen anything like it. As I pondered what about the sketch had caused such a strong reaction from the wards I examined the wards themselves and found the Operator symbol scored heavily upon them like a fresh wound. I went through to my ritual space and claimed my wand, raising to repair the wards. But each attempt I made to erase the sigil resulted in the wards themselves fighting against me. Then I remembered the sigil Rodney had sketched loosing power and more were drawn within it. Repeating his design I filled the sigil with fractal repetitions and it quickly lost power to the point I was able to erase it and restore the wards to their pristine condition. However I found this quite taxing. I retreated to my bed with my laptop and tried to work but I quickly dropped off to sleep
I found myself drifting towards a dark woodland. I knew that the entity was within, along with his hostages. I thought that I could attempt a quick recon but as I approached a long limb came from behind and wrapped itself around my waist. There was a sharp pain and I found myself tumbling through the dreamlands. My last sight before crashing into wakefulness was of a blue and white striped apron.
My head was pounding with the beginnings of a migraine so I put away the laptop, swallowed a couple of co-codamol and decided to undress for bed. Where I had felt the sharp pain I found a small shallow wound on my waist, little more than a scratch, that had already scabbed over. There was no blood on my clothes.